Top 12 Shortest Professional Soccer Goalkeepers in the World - HowTheyPlay - Sports
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Top 12 Shortest Professional Soccer Goalkeepers in the World

I am an electrical engineer and a passionate sports fan. Soccer is one of my particular favorites.

How Much Does Height Matter?

Being tall is advantageous in a wide variety of sports—and soccer is no exception. One aspect of soccer where height plays a crucial role is goalkeeping. With the average height of a Premier League goalkeeper being 1.9 meters (6 ft 3 in), there is no question that you need to tower over the average player in order to compete in the big leagues as a goalkeeper.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, Iker Casilla, Viktor Valdez, and David Ospina barely reach six feet (1.82 meters) but have still been successful in the big leagues. These goalkeepers were able to make up for their height disadvantage by improving their reaction time, positioning, jumping ability, and decision making. It goes to show that with a strong work ethic, goalkeepers who are only a couple of inches below the average height can be successful.

However, what does a prospective goalkeeper do if he's significantly shorter than average? This time, it requires more than just a strong work ethic. It requires an absolutely unparalleled passion and dedication toward the game. Let's take a look at the 12 shortest goalkeepers ever in professional footballer history.

Juan Olivares was part of the Chilean squad for the 1966 and 1974 World Cups.

Juan Olivares was part of the Chilean squad for the 1966 and 1974 World Cups.

12. Juan Olivares (1.72 m)

Height: 1.72 m (5 ft 7.5 in)

Full name: Juan Segundo Olivares Marambio

Country of origin: Chile

Born: February 20, 1941

Juan Olivares is one of the shortest goalkeepers to come out of Chile. He spent most of his club career in Chile playing for Santiago Wanderers, Magallanes, Cobreloa, and Unión Española.

Despite his size, Olivares played for the Chilean national team between 1965 and 1974, gaining 33 caps.

He was also part of the Chilean squad for the 1966 and 1974 World Cups.

At 46 years old, Óscar Pérez Rojas was the oldest active player in Liga MX.

At 46 years old, Óscar Pérez Rojas was the oldest active player in Liga MX.

11. Óscar Pérez Rojas (1.72 m)

Height: 1.72 m (5 ft 7.5 in)

Country of origin: Mexico

Born: February 1, 1973

Known by the nickname, "El Conejo" (which is Spanish for "The Rabbit"), Óscar Pérez Rojas has been capped 54 times for the Mexico national team since 1997. At 46 years old, he was the oldest active player in Liga MX and holds the Primera División records for career appearances and saves.

Pérez has competed in both the 2002 and 2010 FIFA World Cup for Mexico. He was part of the Mexico squad that hosted and won the FIFA Confederation Cup in 1999. He also has three CONCACAF Gold Cup trophies under his belt, which he won with Mexico in 1998, 2003, and 2009.

He helped Cruz Azul in winning the championships in the 1997 winter season. In 2016, Pérez won the Liga MX final with C.F. Pachuca after he was loaned there, helping them gain their sixth championship in their history.

Pérez was regarded to be the best goalkeeper in Mexico from the years of 1998 to early 2002.

František Plánička was never cautioned or sent off in his career.

František Plánička was never cautioned or sent off in his career.

10. František Plánička (1.72 m)

Height: 1.72 m (5 ft 7.5 in)

Country of origin: Austria-Hungary (currently Czech Republic)

Life: June 2, 1904–July 20, 1996

František Plánička is mostly remembered for his incredible shot-stopping ability and acrobatic style which earned him the nickname, “The Cat of Prague.” He is one of the most recognized footballers in the history of Czechoslovakian football.

He spent his entire career with Slavia Prague and helped the club win the Czech league eight times and the Mitropa Cup once.

He captained the Czechoslovakia national team during the World Cup finals of 1934 and 1938, helping his team achieve the second position in the 1934 World Cup.

Plánicka exhibited good sportsmanship throughout his career and was never cautioned in a game. He was awarded the UNESCO International Fair Play Award in 1985.

He was elected in 1999 by the IFFHS as the best Czech goalkeeper—and ninth-best overall—of the 20th century. In 2003, he was cataloged as the greatest goalkeeper of an era.

In the 1934–35 season, Giuseppe Cavanna had the lowest goals conceded per game average (0.722) for Napoli.

In the 1934–35 season, Giuseppe Cavanna had the lowest goals conceded per game average (0.722) for Napoli.

9. Giuseppe Cavanna (1.71 m)

Height: 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)

Country of origin: Italy

Life: September 18, 1905–November 3, 1976

Giuseppe Cavanna was an Italian football goalkeeper who played in the 1920s and 1930s for Pro Vercelli and S.S.C. Napoli.

He was able to overcome his height disadvantage and played 151 matches in Serie A. In the 1934–35 season, he had the lowest goals conceded per game average (0.722) for Napoli, a record that stood until Dino Zoff broke it during the 1970–71 season.

Cavanna was the reserve goalkeeper for the Italian national team that won the 1934 FIFA World Cup on home soil.

Ted Burgin was a non-playing member of England's squad for the 1954 World Cup.

Ted Burgin was a non-playing member of England's squad for the 1954 World Cup.

8. Ted Burgin (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: Edward Burgin

Country of origin: England

Life: April 29, 1927–March 26, 2019

Ted Burgin was at one time regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in England. He played in the Football League for Sheffield United, Doncaster Rovers, Leeds United, and Rochdale.

He was able to counter his small size with his incredible agility. This helped him remain in Sheffield United for nearly eight seasons. He made 314 appearances for them, including 281 League games and 20 FA Cup ties.

He joined Rochdale in 1960 and spent six seasons there. He made 207 league appearances and played in the 1962 Football League Cup Final.

Burgin won two caps for England B in 1954 and was selected in England's squad for the 1954 World Cup.

Teddy Davison's fairness and diplomacy earned him the nicknames of "The George Washington of Sheffield football" and "Honest Ted."

Teddy Davison's fairness and diplomacy earned him the nicknames of "The George Washington of Sheffield football" and "Honest Ted."

7. Teddy Davison (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: John Edward "Teddy" Davison

Country of origin: England

Life: September 2, 1887–February 1, 1971

Although Teddy Davison was very small for a goalkeeper, he made up for his size with lightning reflexes and top-class anticipation. He has gone down in football records as the smallest goalkeeper ever to play for England.

He was called up to the England team to face Wales on March 13, 1922, in the British Home Championship at Anfield and kept a clean sheet in a 1–0 win. He played for Sheffield Wednesday (his only league club) for 18 years in a career that lasted between 1908 and 1926. Davison made 424 appearances in all competitions for them.

Throughout his career he kept a record of every match he played in. According to this record, he played in 618 games and conceded 810 goals. It also revealed he was a specialist at keeping out penalties, saving 24 out of 77 faced. Davison was picked eight times for Sheffield's representative side and toured Australia with the FA in 1925.

Steve Death was one of the longest-serving players to appear for Reading. He has been called "Reading's greatest ever goalkeeper."

Steve Death was one of the longest-serving players to appear for Reading. He has been called "Reading's greatest ever goalkeeper."

6. Steve Death (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: Stephen Victor Death

Country of origin: England

Life: September 19, 1949–October 26, 2003

Steve Death was able to secure a place as a first-choice goalkeeper for Reading despite being only 5’7". He was the smallest goalkeeper in the Football League at the time but was able to retain his spot for 10 years with a total of 537 first-team appearances.

When he first joined Reading, there were doubts about whether he would be able to compensate for his height. However, his extraordinary energy and work ethic made him win the popularity of Reading fans. He was named player of the season in his first season for the club.

Death won PFA Divisional Awards in 1973–74 and 1978–79. He also collected a Division Four Championship plaque in 1978–79 and kept 26 clean sheets in that season. Death also held the record of 1,074 minutes without conceding a goal in English league football until it was subsequently broken by Edwin van der Sar.

Juan Botasso played in goal for Argentina in the 1930 FIFA World Cup final.

Juan Botasso played in goal for Argentina in the 1930 FIFA World Cup final.

5. Juan Botasso (1.69 m)

Height: 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)

Country of origin: Argentina

Life: October 23, 1908–October 5, 1950

Juan Botasso was a footballer from one of the most successful football countries, Argentina.

He began his career in 1927 with Argentino de Quilmes and then moved to Racing Club de Avellaneda where he played until 1938.

Despite his size, he was able to secure a place in the Argentine national team and played in goal for Argentina in the 1930 FIFA World Cup final.

Jorge Campos started as goalkeeper for Mexico in two FIFA World Cup tournaments: 1994 and 1998.

Jorge Campos started as goalkeeper for Mexico in two FIFA World Cup tournaments: 1994 and 1998.

4. Jorge Campos (1.68 m)

Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)

Full name: Jorge Campos Navarrete

Country of origin: Mexico

Born: October 15, 1966

No short goalkeeper has made an impact in the world of football like Jorge Campos. He is mostly remembered for his colorful playing attire, acrobatic style of goalkeeping, and his constant play outside the penalty area. He was able to make up for his lack of height by capitalizing on his main strengths, which were his leaping ability, athleticism, and speed.

He was an extremely versatile player and was able to play as a striker, as well.

Campos started his career in 1988 in Mexico with Pumas. With time, he earned the position of first-choice goalkeeper and won the 1990–1991 championship with Pumas.

Campos also won the championship with Cruz Azul in the Primera División de México Invierno 1997 (México First Division Winter 1997).

Jorge continued his career in the United States, where he starred in Major League Soccer's first three seasons for the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago Fire. He won the MLS Cup with Chicago fire in 1998 and also won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with the same team in the same year.

Jorge excelled on the international stage as well winning the FIFA Confederations Cup with Mexico in 1999 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup twice in 1993 and 1996. He also started as goalkeeper for Mexico in two FIFA World Cup tournaments: 1994 and 1998. He would eventually collect 130 caps.

He was widely considered as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation.

Angelo Martino Colombo won the Serie A champion with Juventus in the 1966/67 season.

Angelo Martino Colombo won the Serie A champion with Juventus in the 1966/67 season.

3. Angelo Martino Colombo (1.68 m)

Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)

Country of origin: Italy

Life: May 13, 1935–March 13, 2014

Angelo Martino Colombo made a total of 412 club appearances in his senior career despite standing at a mere 5’6”.

He started his senior career in 1954 with Pro Vercelli where he played with them for 5 years before moving to Messina. He played briefly for Messina and was later signed by Cagliari where he made 165 appearances for them.

Angelo Martino Colombo played for Juventus from 1965 to 1968. He won the Serie A champion with Juve in the 1966/67 season. He also made 46 appearances for Verona.

In his debut 1971–72 season, Francesco Quintini was the shortest goalkeeper of the Serie A.

In his debut 1971–72 season, Francesco Quintini was the shortest goalkeeper of the Serie A.

2. Francesco Quintini (1.68 m)

Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)

Country of origin: Italy

Born: May 27, 1952

Francesco Quintini is a retired Italian professional football player. He played for four seasons (nine games) in the Serie A for A.S. Roma. In his debut 1971–72 season, he was the shortest goalkeeper of the Serie A.

He also won the Anglo-Italian Cup with Roma in 1972.

At just 1.66 meters, Pedro Benítez is the shortest professional goalkeeper in soccer history.

At just 1.66 meters, Pedro Benítez is the shortest professional goalkeeper in soccer history.

1. Pedro Benítez (1.66 m)

Height: 1.66 m (5 ft 5 in)

Full name: Pedro Manuel Benítez Arpolda

Country of origin: Paraguay

Life: January 12, 1901–January 31, 1974

Pedro Benítez played for the Paraguayan team in the 1930 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Uruguay.

In 1932, he played nine matches in the Club Atlético Atlanta, in the Argentinean First League.

Your turn to weigh in...

More Goalkeeper Trivia

Questions & Answers

Question: Is Iker Casillas considered short as a goalkeeper?

Answer: Iker Casillas' height is listed as 6'1" which is only slightly below the average goalkeeper height of 6'2". However, there is evidence that Casillas stands even shorter than his listed height. People who have met Iker Casillas in person have confirmed his real height is 5'11" instead of 6'1". This didn't deter him from becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the world. I must mention that Casillas compensates for his lack of height with his long arms. He has really long arms for height (high positive ape index) and is able to get to balls where the average person his height can't.

Question: Who are some good modern goalkeepers who are 6'0" or shorter?

Answer: 1. Yann Sommer: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in

2. Víctor Valdés: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in

3. Vincent Enyeama: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in

4. Mathew Ryan: 1.84 m or 6 ft 0 in

5. David Ospina: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in

6. Claudio Bravo: 1.84 m or 6 ft 0 in

7. Kenneth Vermeer: 1.82 m or 6 ft 0 in

8. Beto: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in

9. Michel Vorm: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in

10. Nicholas Rimando: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in

11. Anthony Lopes: 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)

12. Guillermo Ochoa: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)

Question: Who is the tallest player in football?

Answer: The tallest player in football is Simon Bloch Jorgensen who stands at a remarkable 2.10 m or 6 ft 10 1⁄2 in. He is a Danish goalkeeper who spent his early career with Frem, FC Copenhagen, B.93, and B.1908. He has also played for clubs like Accrington Stanley and Whitehawk.

© 2017 Charles Nuamah

Comments

Ukraine on June 04, 2020:

Angelo Colombo (Verona) was 168

Charles Nuamah (author) from Germany on April 30, 2017:

Of course, you can be able to play professional football. Some of the best footballers in the world like Lionel Messi, Philipp Lahm, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Juan Mata are pretty short. It all depends on your talent, passion and dedication towards the game. Good luck.

Anonymous on April 30, 2017:

I am 17 years old and around 1.68cm tall, am I able to play professional football?

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on March 05, 2017:

So glad to see a futball hub today of all days. Today is the inaugural match for the new team Atlanta United! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

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